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Comparison – The Thief of Joy or a Needed Awakener?

At my current stage in life, everything that I live structured around always brings about comparison to one degree or another. You see it in our schools, our workplaces, in creative businesses, and even in relationships/friendships. When we are faced with so many opportunities to compare one’s successes to our own, I can’t help but question whether or not comparison can be healthy. What elements of our lives exist in the thin silver lining that separates the destructive from the constructive characteristics of comparison?

As Pastor Zeta preached during the outdoor service last week, our help comes from the Lord above. He makes our paths straight and will lead us to still waters – this is something we all know. So in fact, God has the answer to my aforementioned question. The first step in ensuring that we don’t succumb to the negative feelings that arise when we judge ourselves is to acknowledge that the most powerful emotion that comparison evokes is envy. God tells us this in Proverbs 14:30 – “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

If we are to be His children, then we must set ourselves apart from the world. I try to constantly reflect on the idea that we shouldn’t live for the people and how that comes to fruition in my own day to day life. A verse that helps me when I try to think these things through comes from Galatians 1:10 – “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” This to me is a friendly ultimatum that God presents, and strangely enough, I hear it almost daily on the Shine FM radio station. In my head, the whole verse simplifies to say: “I would rather be judged by the world and stand by God than to stand by the world and be judged by God.”

However, just to clarify, God indeed recognizes that comparison can stir our souls in a very healthy manner. In fact, of all the famous figures or people in the world, He points out one who is worthy of comparison, and that is Christ. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1. When we choose to develop our souls in the direction of Christ, we will inevitably live out God’s will for our lives. To conclude, I’d just like to offer up a passage that is an endearing reminder of our God’s majesty. It comes from Psalm 139:14 – “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” We are made by God in the image of Christ and in my eyes, it doesn’t get much better than that.

 

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Gifts for Mom

Gift of Affirmation and Encouragement (1 Thess 5:11)

Many parents often doubt and question themselves “is what we’re doing the best for our children?” I can appreciate my parents today and say that they did their best as immigrants. They argued, fought, and I have never once seen them kiss, but all in all, they persevered because of me. It truly is God’s miraculous power that they are still together today.

Gift of Thankfulness

This is the simplest way to show you appreciate your mom. For those who don’t have children yet: please realize the fact that your mom gave birth to you is no simple endeavor. Nine months of nausea and vomiting while at work, labor pains, delivery (I can go on and on :) Just do it – say thank you mom.

Gift of Touch

When was the last time you hugged your mom (or dad)? It doesn’t matter if my kids are sweaty, smelly, or haven’t brushed their teeth, I will always welcome their hugs and kisses.

Gift of Prayer

I feel like I should have it “all together” as a mom, but there are definitely times when I breakdown and need help. I have asked my children to pray for me to be more patient. That alone helps me get through a rough day. Gift of Forgiveness – I think this is one of the most difficult one to give. Maybe there has been harsh words exchanged in the past, or moments when we intentionally give our mothers grief when they “mess up”. Whatever the situation is, just as Christ forgave us, we too should also forgive. (Colossians 3:3)

 

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Unashamed

There is a song that’s been in on my heart this past week entitled Unashamed, here’s the chorus:

 

I know I’m weak, I know I’m unworthy

to call upon Your Name; but because

of grace, because of Your mercy, I stand

here unashamed”.

 

Just when I thought I’ve got it all together and that I’ve been “good” Christian, this past month has been rough. I’ve been struggling with my past insecurities, unforgiveness, and purity. The Bible gives us warnings: “So if you think that you’re standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12). My encouragement to those who are also struggling is from Isaiah 1:18 “Though your sins are red as crimson, they shall be as white as snow.” When temptations of this world surround you, or when you feel like you’ve lost those daily battles, Jesus’ love and grace is here to meet you today. Let’s not hinder our growth in Christ by putting up boundaries, dwelling upon our failures, or compartmentalizing our faith. Instead, let us come boldly into His throne of grace knowing that His work on the cross has paid for all our sins. Know that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:22). Will you join me as we enter into a time of worship to lay down our burdens at His feet, and allow the Holy Spirit to restore and renew your soul? “Here I am, at Your feet, in my brokenness complete” (Unashamed by Starfield)

 

 

-Sister in Christ, INSPIRE

 

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All Things New

As a parent, one of the things I find deeply frustrating is when our kids don’t do what I expect. What is even more frustrating is when they don’t do what they are asked to do; and even further when, after multiple requests, that thing is still not put away. And yet, despite the frustration of our kids not doing something I know they are fully capable of and have all the resources to accomplish, I cannot imagine getting rid of them for different children or just getting rid of them all together.

Our hope and prayer for our children is that they would continue to grow and develop to become fully loving, fully caring, responsible adults. We want them to go from being dependant children to community oriented and contributing followers of Jesus. We don’t want new children, we want our children to become new creations. This is what God desires for all of us as well. He wants to take us at whatever stage of growth and maturity we are at, and he wants to transform us to be more like Jesus.

Even more than we love our kids, God loves you and I no matter how much we have missed the mark and calls you and I to become more than we ever imagine possible. As Jesus ministered throughout his life, he proclaimed the kingdom by bringing sight to the blind, health to the sick, compassion to the broken hearted, and hope to the disenfranchised. The salvation he lived and proclaimed was not one of eliminating broken people and replacing them with a better model, rather he restored that which was broken and gave them new life. God’s plan from the very beginning has never been about making new things, rather, he is about making all things new!

 

-Pastor Tyler

 

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Who am I Now?

A renewed relationship with God can be an opportunity that brings many to their knees, opening old storage boxes of God’s word “hidden” away and long forgotten simply because it was not convenient or relevant to apply at that time in life. This new relationship is humbling, eye- opening, and even painful as certain “truths” you could not accept in the past become clearly true now. For some, this is an easy transition with answers vividly clear and easy to adopt. For others it can be an identity crisis all over again as they struggle to apply all that is finally learned and accepted from God’s word. I can say I have journeyed back into God’s open arms again, but must also admit reminiscing on the individual I once was...and yes, even missing her. At 42-years-old I find myself pondering on, “Who am I now?” I was once confident and self- assertive, rarely minding what people thought of me and what impression I made with them. I simply did not care. Now, after returning to God, I find I am learning “me” again. This time, it is a “me” that is open-mindedly learning His word and a “me” that strives to have God at the center of all her decisions. The thing is, I have yet to know how to apply all that I am learning towards being a confident disciple of God’s. Have no fear! I am not discouraged by this! What has been encouraging is to be part of a WHO AM I NOW? community I feel safe in, where inspiring individuals have exercised fearlessness and passion for God, qualities that have most definitely influenced people like me. What have I seen from these people who extend grace everyday, from people who have visited our church and shared their testimonies, and from our growing children singing praises for God? It is not about proclaiming my truth anymore but of God’s. It is not about fighting for my own cause but for God’s. It is not about fulfilling my personal desires but fulfilling God’s. And this identity crisis is okay because His grace and love will see me through to a place of growth and transformation that will serve His purpose. Remembering the parable of the yeast (Matthew 13:33), let’s pray for patience so the yeast of the Holy Spirit can gradually work in all of us.

-Sister in Christ, INSPIRE

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Engaged Spirituality Series

There are times when we have low opinions about ourselves. We underestimate our worth and we either withdraw from others or over-exaggerate our qualities so that we appear confident. Some of the challenges we face today are loneliness, low self-esteem, insecurities, peer pressure, unrealistic expectations from our families or culture. We are in need of healing. It is clear that we need to have a healthy image of ourselves. Throughout its pages, the bible constantly afirms that human beings are valuable in God’s sight. We are created in God’s image with intellectual abilities, the capacity to communicate, the freedom to make choices, a knowledge of right and wrong and the responsibility to rule over His creation. The old has gone and the new has come, when we are in Christ Jesus. We are redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ and we are given a new life and hope through the resurrection. We are members of the body of Christ and bearers of the divine image.

-Pastor John

 

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An Eternal Promise

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An Eternal Promise

Every year many believers will gather like us at GoodTree, acknowledging His death on the cross on Good Friday, then celebrating the resurrection of Christ on Sunday. Let’s search our hearts today, what does Easter mean to you personally? 

For myself, Easter has both a sorrowful and victorious tune. Many funerals within the past year has naturally led me to wonder more about the purpose of life and my sphere of influence, especially those that don’t know Him. Jesus has overcome both physical and spiritual death. This Easter, I truly know what it means to have hope, to know that one day I will see those loved ones again. A spiritual resurrection is promised for us as believers. That same promise is available to all those who choose to believe in Jesus (John 3:16). Even in the fragility of life, we have the assurance of salvation and hope of eternal life. 

After Jesus’ resurrection, He gave us the Great Commission. May we be courageous and share with others what we know about Him. Jesus’ promise to us is this: “And surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:19-20). Even in times of uncertainty, trials, and sorrow, we have our Abba Father and our Savior, who loves us and has called us to bring hope to those around us (1 Peter 3:16). May this Easter Sunday challenge us to continue to grow; let’s be ready GoodTree, to be willing to share His work on the cross and in our lives to those around us.

-Sister in Christ, Inspire

 

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Laying Down Our Cloaks

As we gather today on Palm Sunday, I am reminded of the way Jesus made his entrance into Jerusalem. Most of us know this passage as the Triumphal Entry, when people laid their cloaks on the ground as Jesus made His entrance on a colt. The significance of laying down one’s cloak symbolized honoring one’s presence. How are we laying down our “cloaks” today? Do you come with a troubled heart? Be encouraged:   Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4). Do you come with an anxious heart? Be anxious about nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, surpassing all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6) Do you come feeling lost? 11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jer 29:11) Whatever your situation, let’s come boldly into His presence today Goodtree. As we enter into His sanctuary, may His presence fill your hearts. May you leave this place renewed and refreshed by His Word and His Spirit. Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD. (Lev 19:30)

 

-Sister in Christ, INSPIRE

 

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Walking Faithfully

When was the last time you went for a walk? When we had our first son, we would often go for walks after dinner in the summer. I recall the peacefulness of just holding our little one and enjoying the presence of each another. What does it mean to walk with God? The word walk is used many times in the Bible and in its original Hebrew and Greek language, walk has different meanings depending on the context it is used in. One means to continue to grow steadily (Old Testament), the other means to conduct my life (New Testament). Remember Enoch in the Old Testament? His life was summed up in one line, and what an amazing one: Enoch walked faithfully with God (Genesis 5:24). Our Scripture today is in the New Testament, Galatians 5:16 reminds us to walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry the desires of the flesh. What happens when we don’t walk with God? After the fall (Gen 3:8), Adam and Eve heard the sound of God as He was walking in the garden. Adam recognized God’s presence. God allows us to find Him, and even beckons us, “where are you?” (v.9) God also walks with us. Isn’t that amazing? Since the beginning of time, God was there. He is and always will be. Like Adam, we may hide or isolate ourselves when we walk in disobedience. Yet our Abba Father, our Creator, and our Redeemer calls out to us and gently reminds us He is right beside us. Let’s choose to walk with God every day.

Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. John 15:4

 

-Sister in Christ, INSPIRE

 

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For Such a Time as This

In ancient Greek language, there are two different words for the word “time”. Chronos time refers to the sequential or chronological time, or a specific amount of time such a day or an hour. Kairos time however, refers to the right or opportune moment. In the New Testament, Christian theology refers to this as the “appointed time in the purpose of God”. As we go through our daily schedule, whether at school, at home, or in the workplace, we can easily fall into the trap of doing things out of routine. When I got my first job after graduation, I was so excited. But soon after, the novelty of being in a new office and the new title wore off. I asked myself, “How do these people do the same thing everyday for so many years?” There was very little sense of purpose for me. I began being more intentional with my relationships at work, and started going for walks with my coworkers during our lunch hours. I found out what their dreams and goals were. They inspired me to do something I was (and still am) passionate about. After a year, I resigned and went on a short term missions trip. Shortly after, I worked for a non-profit Christian organization and had the privilege of having a spiritual mentor who trained me in Biblical teaching, evangelism, and discipleship. That year was my kairos moment. As we approach the commissioning service for new our deacons today, let’s keep them in prayer as they are stepping into a kairos time where God has specially called and anointed them as our leaders. Let’s also reflect upon our own journey: When or have you encountered a kairos moment? How did God reveal Himself through that experience? If you are at crossroads in your journey, be encouraged: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

-Sister in Christ, INSPIRE

 

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Making a Difference in Eternity

Growing up at church, I have attended many services over the course of 30 years and have had the privilege of meeting many pastors and guest speakers. There is one particular speaker who I will never forget. His message was simple and memorable, and I would like to share it with you, because it reminds me of who we are at Goodtree Christian Fellowship: Imagine a line that represents eternity. We are simply a dot, on the line of eternity. If we live for our own desires and comforts, we simply live and die, and nothing in eternity changes. But if we love others, those lives we touch will be changed. When they receive Christ as their Savior, we have made a difference in their lives for eternity. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” Last week Hoyee and Nick shared about those affected by the Syrian crisis. Although I heard only parts of what was spoken, I remember the tears they cried. I saw the passion in their hearts and their longing to make a difference in the lives of others. That was truly encouraging - seeing God at work here in our midst, helping us change lives, stirring up hearts, and making a difference on the line of eternity.

“I have seen the burden God laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in His time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecc 3:10-11

-Sister in Christ, Inspire

 

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A Teachable Spirit

I have a five year old who is learning to write her numbers and letters. She is very focused, and has a long attention span for her age. She is also very independent and strives to do everything on her own. It is very frustrating when I try to correct or help her. Since she takes great pride in her writing, I try not to hurt her feelings by saying she is wrong. Instead of saying those words, I try to be gentle with my words: “If you want to go to kindergarten, you have to learn to write your letters correctly.” As I reflect on her behavior, and my role as a parent, I discovered that it didn’t really matter how well she could write. What is more important is for her to have a humble and teachable spirit. Knowing how to “write our alphabets” is great, but let us pray for humble hearts and teachable spirits. When we make mistakes by going our own ways, our Abba Father gently corrects and restores us. As we prepare for service today, let us remember that He has given His word to us:

“To teach [us] wisdom and discipline, to help [us] understand, to do what is right, just and fair. [To] give insight to the simple; knowledge and discernment to the young.” (Proverbs 1) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

-Sister in Christ, Inspire

 

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Loving One Another

I recently went on a date night with my spouse. He took out his phone right after we ordered dinner. I thought to myself, “Oh no, one of those date nights again where we constantly check our phones”. Surprisingly, he showed me a list of questions that married couples should know about one another. We had a great evening of sharing and learning more about each other. That was memorable, as we spent some good quality time together. As we celebrate Valentine’s and Family Day this weekend, I am reminded of the many relationships we have. Whether it is a friendship, parents/children, siblings, or significant others; let’s be intentional and take time to show that we care, especially to those who may feel alone this weekend. Gary Chapman, in his book The Five Love Languages, shares about the different ways we can show love through acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and physical touch. Acts of service can be as simple as helping a sibling with a chore or making a meal for someone who doesn’t have family in town. Sending a card with words encouragement may help strengthen a friend through a challenging time. A simple gesture of giving a hug, though it may be uncomfortable, helps to comfort those who are grieving or going through a difficult time.

Ephesians 5:2 “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Let us be imitators of Christ this week and reach out to those who need it most; may we spread the fragrance of Christ’s love to those around us.

-Sister in Christ, Inspire

 

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At the Cross

Recall a time when you worked really hard towards a definitive goal: studying for an exam, rehabilitation treatments to heal an injury, training for a competition, or working many years to pay off the mortgage. Whatever the accomplishment, we have all experienced that defining moment when we say, “it is finished.” Before His crucifixion, we find Jesus praying, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39) Jesus obeyed the call of the cross despite His own fears. His suffering enabled us to share in His glory. “It is finished” were Jesus’ last words as He took His final breath on the cross. 1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” As we take part in communion today, we reflect upon Jesus’ work on the cross. Though we share in His suffering, we also share in His glory (Romans 8:7). He knows our pain, our fears, our struggles, and our temptations. “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows, but have courage, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). He has spoken these words so that we may have peace. Let us open up our hearts and allow Jesus Christ to refresh our weary souls today. Let us draw near to Him, so that we may be able to discern His voice. When faced with the unknown this week, may we pray those same words, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

-Sister in Christ, INSPIRE

 

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A Higher Standard

Have you ever tried going on a new exercise regime? Maybe you’ve set goals this year to exercise more. Once you start, you may notice how your body craves different foods. Maybe you’re eating salads instead of fries, and if you’re a true Albertan, your body will cry out for beef. Not just a burger, but prime rib! Spiritually, we’re not so different. If we have set goals to spend more time soaking in His presence in worship and studying His Word, we will crave the indwelling of His Spirit in our lives, the real “meat” in our spirituality. In times of adversity, sorrow, and temptation, let us hunger and thirst to live according to His Word, and His standards. Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” God’s standards for us are high. He says, “Be Holy, for I am Holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) That is a high calling. God has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us, to be set apart for Him. Let us search our hearts and ask ourselves: What are God’s standards? Have I truly followed His ways? Is His word changing me? Is my speech edifying? Do my actions show love, mercy and grace? Lord, we pray that You would open our spiritual eyes this week, to see what we need to change, maybe it’s in our way of thinking, our words, or how we spend our time. Help us overcome our past and show us how to live a victoriously. Help us to choose to live our lives according to Your standard, not the world’s. In His Holy Name, Amen.

-Sister in Christ, Inspire

 

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Entering His Presence

In our performance based and media-tech craze culture, our mind and attention is stretched in many directions: emails, texts, projects, assignments, exams, appointments, the list goes on. When we find time to rest and slow down to reflect, what are we thinking of? For myself, memories of loved ones who are gone fill my mind. Sometimes I cry tears of sadness because I miss them. But recently, I find myself crying tears of healing; healing from past hurts, guilt, and shame. In these quiet moments, I sense God’s presence. He has been waiting for me. My tears remind me that is He is drawing me closer to Him, the one who comforts, the one who gives me peace beyond understanding, and the one who sets me free from sin. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double- minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” Let us draw closer to God this year, by humbling ourselves and asking God to search our hearts. What areas do we need to surrender to the Lord? Let us not be “conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind” (Romans 12:2). Let us draw near [to God] with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean” (Hebrews 10:22). Let us rest in His promise that “His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning” (Lam 3:22). Let us trust God when He says that “as far as the east is from the west, so far he has removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). May we be lifted up in His presence this week as we enter into a time of worship. Know that when we seek our Father, His grace and mercy is there to meet us. “The Lord is near to all who call on Him... He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him... He hears their cry” (Psalm 145:18). Whatever situation you are in, He is waiting for you.

-Sister in Christ, Inspire

 

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Who Am I?

Identity is an interesting thing. When travelling to another country your name, birthplace, legal standing and the documentation to prove these facts is all important. On the other hand, when travelling down the street, rarely do people take an interest in our existence beyond ensuring you don’t collide with one another. Yet despite the vast difference in each of these situations, neither is really concerned with who we are. Who we truly are is not defined exclusively by what we have done, what space we occupy, or even by what name we go by – although they play a part – and yet when we look in the mirror these are the things we often evaluate ourselves on. The jobs we have, achievements we’ve made, how much weight we have gained or lost, is too often our answer to the question “who am I?” Although these various things help label our place and position in society (or state of physical health), none of them really gets at the crux of defining who you or I are. Genesis 1 and 2 tells us that humankind was created in the image of God to fill and care for creation. The Apostle Peter echoes this when telling the churches of Asia Minor they are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, to declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Although neither of these truths will replace a lost passport at a border crossing or be a good excuse if you bash into someone walking on the street, when we live in the truth that we are created by God and called to declare his praise, we will see something entirely different when looking in the mirror. Who am I? Who are we? You and are God’s holy people, called, and capable, to declare his praise!

 

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The Other

There are people who I have met that I enjoy being around right away. There are others who I meet and it takes me a while to warm up to them, but once I do I like hanging around them. Then there are others who I did not like when I first met them, did not like after meeting them a second time, and now years later, having met and hung out with them numerous times, I still do not enjoy spending time with them. What is and what should be my response? I have had people say to me, “you are a pastor, your job is to like everyone,” but I would disagree. There are some people, for whatever reason, that I just don’t like. Personalities clash, differences of opinions, and many other factors contribute to why I, or you, would not like someone. This is a reality. Mandating “liking” someone (i.e. to say that it is a job), is impossible because how a person feels about another person is very subjective. Unfortunately we often confuse Jesus’ call to love others with a call to like them – and this is not the case. Loving others requires much more work and is not subjective; loving others is the call of God. When Mother Teresa loved the poorest of the poor and helped them to die well, it could not have been because she really liked them for there was not much to “like” about them. When Jesus called saw the multitudes crowding around him, or the soldiers beating him, or the sick and dying crying out to him, he did not respond because he liked them. However, the Scriptures are very clear that in his response to the people around him Jesus, “had compassion on them,” in others words, “he loved them.” The command by God to love the other is not subjective, it is each and every Christian’s call.

 

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Hallowed be Your Name

2015 was an incredible year. I am grateful for the dedication of our volunteer leaders: our worship team ushering us into the presence God every Sunday, our Sunday School teachers pouring into the children, those who serve with hospitality at Rundle Group Home and Baker House, and the during day camp. By God’s grace we also welcomed Emad to Canada, supported Teen Challenge, raised money for Nepal, helped raise awareness & sponsored children through the Compassion Canada Concert, buried loved ones, celebrated marriages, and sent ambassadors for Christ to South Africa. Over the last few weeks there is a question that has been stirring within me: in what ways have we lost our reverence for God, His Word and the sacraments? The first line in the Lord’s Prayer, “our Father, hallowed be thy name” (Matt 6:9) couples two important thoughts: first, it speaks of an intimate relationship with God who is father; second is a reverence toward a holy God. The Christian life should be a journey growing in a greater respect and awe for prayer, His Word and His will in our lives. On the contrary we often become lackadaisical in our attitudes and our approach to God. As we begin 2016 together in worship my hope and prayer is that we would have reverent hearts toward God and His church as we seek to glorify Him in 2016. That our lives will increasingly be marked by humility, submission, commitment, dedication, faithfulness and obedience – some of the marks of true reverence toward God. The words of the psalmist resonate within me, “search me and know me, see if there is any offensive way in me” (Ps 139:24), may this be our approach to God in 2016 as we strive to keep the faith, keep real and as always, live our lives for the Kingdom!

-Pastor John

 

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Resurrected Eyes

I wonder how hard it was for people to follow the resurrected Jesus when he was walking amongst them? In many ways this seems like a silly question because you or I may say, “if the resurrected Jesus was standing in front of me I would do anything he says.” How could one refute seeing Jesus die on the cross one day and then walking around a few days later? How could you find it difficult to do anything he asked having witnessed such an event?

I’m a big fan of gimmicks, or at least I used to be. I remember when I was a kid and something would come in the mail advertising a free trip, or seeing products at the home show that could cook a ten course dinner in 5 minutes with only 2 minutes of prep work and thinking “Mom and Dad we need to have this!” I remember getting excited and energized by the opportunity to have so much for so little and wondering why everyone doesn’t have this or that product. However as I got older and had opportunity to buy these things for myself, I quickly began to see that although these products offered much, there nearly always a catch. For the free trip you had to be inundated with advertising for the timeshare, and for the cooking products…well they just didn’t work as advertised. These products offered much for “10 easy low payments,” or “the cost of a coffee a day,” but once I began to see what was being sold, I realized that although the cost seemed low, it was still too much for something that didn’t actually make a difference in my life. Jesus’ sales pitch however, was different.

When he walked the earth, Jesus’ message was “lose your life for my sake and you will find it,” “give up everything and come follow me,” “eat my flesh and blood.” None of these phrases is easy to follow, all of them costs us much and that is why I wonder if those who saw the resurrected Lord may have still rejected his message - it was going to cost them something they did not want to let go of. Their current beliefs (whether Jew or Gentile), their current way of life, their relationships, and so much more would all be redefined if they chose to follow Christ. They would begin to see the world (the homeless, the widow, the orphan, even God himself) with a new set of eyes that they just could not comprehend. No longer could they rely on the law and rabbinical interpretation to dictate what was right or wrong, or what could or couldn’t be done on a particular day; they would have to trust the Spirit to guide them. They would have to surrender their own will for the will of Christ.

It seems the only way for us to follow Jesus, is simply that, to follow. To die to our own way of thinking and to begin to think like Christ - to allow the Spirit of God access to our hearts and minds, that we might begin to see with resurrected eyes. To die to oneself is an act of faith, for only God can bring the dead back to life, but the more I follow Jesus, the more I am convinced this is the only path worth travelling. This Easter, allow your desires to die and allow the love of God to fill you anew; that you would have eyes to see and ears to hear what God wants you to see and hear today.

- Tyler

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